Mark Twain

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do ...
Explore. Dream. Discover." Mark Twain

Saturday, June 9, 2018

The Pull of the Moon

Recently I have been cleaning out my Kindle of books I probably will never read.  Scanning the book summary of each book - and deleting a bunch of them.  Many were free and sounded interesting at the time I selected them.  But now they seem trite and repetitive.  Whatever was I thinking ... was the thought that passed my brain over and over.

And then I came to this title:

The Pull of the Moon
 by Elizabeth Berg

The publisher's summary read like this:

Uncomfortable with the fit of her life, now that she's in the middle of it, Nan gets into her car and just goes--driving across the country on back roads, following the moon; and stopping to talk to people.  Through conversations with women, men, with her husband through letters, and with herself through her diary, Nan confronts topics long overdue for her attention.  She writes to her husband and says things she's never admitted before; and she discovers how the fabric of her life can be reshaped into a more authentic creation.

This book has been waiting on my Kindle since 2015.  I read the summary and a little pull made me select it again - this time to read now.

As I read, I found myself relating strongly with Nan, the 50 year old woman who it seemed was having a mid-life crisis of some sort.  But early on I realized this was not a crisis at all.  It was a breaking out, a leap for freedom, a search of the self, ... a self she had ignored for so long.  Then a quote leaped off the page and pointed a finger straight at me.

"Most women are full to the brim.  I think we are most of us ready to explode, especially when our children are small and we are so weary with the demands for love and attention and the kind of service that makes you feel you should be wearing a uniform with "Mommy" embroidered over the left breast, over the heart. ... It wasn't that I was really unhappy.  It was the constancy of my load and the awesome importance of it; and it was my isolation. ... I see now, there were internal earthquakes wanting to happen all the time."

But, YES!  That was me.  Most of my adult life.  It was me.  Except the word I would substitute for the embroidered "Mommy" label would be "Caregiver."  Caregiver was not a life role I ever aspired to.  True ... I chose to be a parent - and wouldn't change that role ever!!  The reward for being a parent caregiver is the wonderful adult children I have today.  But the "caregiver" role continued to follow me.  First it was my husband's grandmother.  My husband was her only living relative.  Of course we would care for her.  Then it was my mother-in-law.  My husband had no other blood family but his mom, so yes I would care for her.  Then my own mother started to fail and she needed an advocate ... a caregiver!  A no brainer - my mom needed assistance and I could not turn away.  I never thought twice about that choice.  In fact, I never thought twice about any of those decisions.

Now I am 71, and I feel a 'short-timer' in my life.  Oh, I plan to live as many years as God intends, but to be frank and realistic,  I certainly have more years behind me - than ahead of me! In fact, my body tells me this is true.

My caregiving role, however, continues to haunt me even now.  My husband is now legally blind.  Going blind late in life makes becoming a 'skilled' visually impaired person, pretty darn hard.  He needs more of me now than ever.

The Pull of the Moon hit a major nerve for me.  I have actually thought about just getting in the car and driving away.  It has crossed my mind a lot more than I care to admit.  When the summary said Nan did just that ... drove away ... I thought - see, this isn't such an abnormal crazy thing to do.  Like Nan, I would not describe myself as unhappy.  But I do often feel that I am "full to the brim."  "Explode" also comes to mind at times.  In fact, I started this blog back in 2007 as a way to keep from exploding.  The words "constancy of my load" and "importance of it" and "isolation,"  ... well, folks, this book is me.

Do you ever feel the way Nan does?  Would you ever jump in the car and just drive off?  I won't, of course.  The hardship my absence for my husband and the worry it would cause my family would be too great a guilt for me to live with.   But I do fantasize about doing that. 

And that is all I would do - fantasize, because just jumping in the car at 71 and driving off is totally unrealistic.  Think of it - I would need to pack all my pills and eye meds, and ace bandages and cold wraps for my knee ... and my pillow. πŸ˜€ I would have to rent a trailer to pack all my knitting paraphernalia, of course!!! πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚  My computer, iPhone, Kindle and iPad need to come as well - with all the chargers. 😝😝😝😝😝. I can't eat a lot of restaurant food any more - heartburn, you know.  So I would have to pack a cooler!   πŸ˜œπŸ˜œπŸ˜œπŸ˜œπŸ˜œπŸ˜œπŸ˜œ Ha!  Barriers everywhere!

Why didn't Nan have to do all that stuff?  Simple: she is only 50!!!!


Guess I missed my window of opportunity for this adventure.  So I am left with living vicariously through Nan.  My advice to Nan?  YOU GO GIRL!!!

I recommend this book.  Good writing, interesting story line, thoughtful observations and a really good  woman-to-woman book about our journey as females.


Terra said...

You make this book sound very relevant, and I hope it works out well for Nan and her family. I am your age and admire your long years of care giving for adults. After my husband died my house is rather empty, and like you I smiled when I think of all the stuff I would need to pack if I went walkabout (as the Australians say).

Sandy said...

Sounds like a good book, except like you I have way too many already loaded in. I'm not a fast reader or really a person that does much reading. But, I love to read while on vacation, rarely here at idea why. Here at home, I blogging, or knitting with the time that could be used for reading. I am currently in the frustration stage with my 92 year old stubborn stubborn stubborn Dad. We had a tough year the year Mom died with hospitals, rehabs and unsafe things at home. And now...seems we're hitting that again. But, he is older than she was, and far more stubborn. Might not be good for me to read that book right now.

Michelle said...

Ah yes, the temptation to ESCAPE is very great sometimes – like today. But I figure God has lessons for me to learn where I am and in what I'm dealing with, and I really do want to cooperate with Him.

Paula Kaye said...

I now have to download this book and read it. I know exactly what you mean about being a caregiver. Exhausting!! We've talked about it before. Hopefully I have taken care of the last person I will ever need to take care of. Hugs to you my friend!

Retired Knitter said...

I hear you Michelle. For myself, I have thought a lot of how my life played out. How much of it was my choice and how much was God's plan.

I used the logic about God. God wanted me here and he gifted me the personality and attitude to do all that caregiving. And I did learn stuff. But I also believe in choice - free will - which God also gave us. Some people can't learn when they are too close to the thing they are coping with. Sometimes space is what is needed to look at it from a distance. I think that is what Nan is doing. She still loves her husband - and send letters sharing her experiences and that she will return - and that she is alright. I admire her ability (even though she is a fake person :-) ) to put herself first for once. That takes strength. I do believe I have a choice and I chose all those caregiving experiences. And I vowed 49 years ago to take care of my husband now. So I continue to choose that.

I really believe each person comes to grips one way or another with life's stresses in their own way. I think whatever they choose is right for who they are. But I do ponder the 'road not taken' in my own life and this story sort of takes me down that road without actually traveling it. :-)

I think you would enjoy this book.

Retired Knitter said...

Ah ... a walkabout! That is what I would love to do - AND do it in Australia!!!

Retired Knitter said...

I agree. The timing might not be right for this book now in your life. But maybe someday. It is wonderful book ... the more I read it.

Retired Knitter said...

I know that you know. Caregivers don't need to explain to caregivers. It is like a sisterhood (or brotherhood) where no words are needed. I know you will enjoy this book.